Kids love dairy, and when your little one is a picky eater, it seems to be one of the few foods he will eat! This becomes a problem, especially in little ones with eczema because dairy is a common eczema trigger whether or not you have tested positive IgE or IgG reactions to it. That’s right, even if you don’t test positive, it still may be triggering skin rashes and flares.
Most of the protein in dairy products comes in the form of casein. The protein structure in the cow, goat, and sheep dairy is a bit different, however not completely different. It is the proteins in foods that cause reactions (allergic and sensitivity reactions), and when they resemble each other between foods, we can have cross-reactivity. That means you can have a reaction to foods that have similar protein structures.
Dairy protein is a natural source of essential amino acids, the ones you need to get from your diet because your body can’t make them. This does make dairy a complete protein, like other animal products. Plant proteins are not complete, they do not contain all essential amino acids. Know these essentials are just that, ESSENTIAL. Your body cannot function appropriately without them, and certainly can’t build and repair healthy skin without them.
Getting in the essential amino acids is vitally as important as getting in enough protein, and just because you’re eating enough protein doesn’t mean you are meeting amino acid requirements.
Interestingly, the less fat your milk contains, the more protein it has, although the overall difference is minimal. I certainly do not recommend lower fat dairy products (or dairy at all if you struggle with eczema), or lower fat products of any kind for that matter. Lower fat content means higher carbohydrate and sugar content, which can be problematic with a dysbiotic gut, as is the case in those with skin rashes like eczema.
Generally, for every 100g serving of cow, or goat milk you drink, you get between 3 and 4 grams of protein. Sheep milk is a little higher at almost 6 grams of protein per 100g serving. 100g is just under half a cup, or equal to about 3.5 oz. Therefore a cup of milk on average contains roughly 10g of protein, and what’s considered a serving would contain roughly 5g on average (calculations rounded UP for generosity ).
Let’s compare. One serving of broccoli (yes I’ve been asked if it’s a good source of protein, the answer is no) is 1/2 cup, and 1 cup of broccoli has 5.7g protein. For one serving of broccoli you’re getting less than 3g of protein.
A ½ cup of cooked beans is a serving size. This quantity of chickpeas contains 20g of protein, and of lentils, 9g (remember plant proteins are not complete, and you need those essential amino acids); 3oz steak has 25g; a small chicken breast 50g; and fish, around 25g in 4oz. Eggs, around 6g per egg.
You can learn more about protein serving sizes here: https://jennifercarynbrand.com/diet-tools/protein
Animal proteins clearly win over plants when it comes to protein and amino acid content, and animal proteins other than dairy clearly have superiority too. Additionally, you should not rely solely on dairy products (or plants for that matter) to meet protein needs. Dairy products are not naturally high in many of the vitamins and minerals found in other protein sources. To ensure that you get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals in addition to protein and amino acids, eat a variety of animal AND plant food sources every day.
The bottom line is that when skin rashes (and gut problems, as well as many other symptoms and health problems) are involved, dairy is definitely NOT something to rely on for protein, or nutrition in general, since it is a common, and inflammatory food trigger for symptoms.
How do you get your picky eater to eat other foods? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a resource that can help: https://jennifercarynbrand.com/nutrition-and-lifecycle-tools/tips-for-picky-eaters